Michael Jackson's reputation has taken some serious damage in the last few years. And that's putting it mildly. Anyone who watched the 2019 "Leaving Neverland" documentary likely looks at the former "King of Pop" very differently. I spoke to a DJ recently and he revealed that getting "no Michael Jackson" is now a common request at weddings and school dances. So you might assume the value of MJ's music catalog has tanked. Your assumption would be wrong.
Late last week Variety reported that the Jackson estate is close to finalizing a deal with Sony for just HALF of MJ's catalog. The price for just that 50% stake?
$800 million and $900 million
The sale will include not just the publishing rights to Jackson's famous catalog of songs and revenue from his recordings, but also revenue from "MJ: The Musical" now on Broadway as well as upcoming projects like the biopic "Michael."
Perhaps even more amazingly, despite the nearly $1 billion figure – which would make this sale the largest in the recent wave of big ticket music catalog acquisitions – the Jackson estate would retain complete control of the assets' management. That means that Sony and whatever financial partner they may have in the deal will essentially be "silent partners" in the management of the Jackson catalog – reaping profits but with no say in licensing deals or other agreements. That's highly unusual and shows the power of MJ's music even after all of his controversy.
The precise financial details of both the deal itself and the current state of the Michael Jackson publishing assets are unclear, but a financial source tells Variety "Primary Wave Music already owns a stake in Jackson's publishing catalog." But the deal is said to be for half of whatever the MJ estate's stake in the assets is now.
The deal would be a milestone not just for its massive price but also for the creative control that the Jackson estate is reportedly insisting on. In other deals of this nature, the artist or the artist's estate relinquishes such control in exchange for the massive payday. Which just goes to show just how lucrative this material remains even several decades after Jackson's commercial heyday as the "King of Pop."